A Jury of Her Peers

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John Wright Character Analysis

The murdered man, and husband of Minnie Wright, whose death forms the backdrop for the events of the story. In the eyes of society, John Wright was respectable. He did not exhibit any of the traits that other men would frown upon such as drinking excessively or failing to pay his debts. Martha Hale, on the other hand, acknowledges the difficult aspects of John Wright’s personality, telling Mrs. Peters of his hardness, quietness, and the lonely life he would have given his wife. John Wright’s cruelty to Minnie is revealed even further over the course of the story.

John Wright Quotes in A Jury of Her Peers

The A Jury of Her Peers quotes below are all either spoken by John Wright or refer to John Wright. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the University of Iowa Press edition of A Jury of Her Peers published in 2010.
A Jury of Her Peers Quotes

“Mr. Henderson said, coming out, that what was needed for the case was a motive. Something to show anger—or sudden feeling.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Peters (speaker), George Henderson, John Wright, Minnie Wright
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

By sharing what George Henderson said, Ms. Peters foreshadows the climax of the story: the discovery of the critical evidence in the case against Mrs. Wright. This critical evidence shows “motive,” the murder’s reasons for committing her crime, which Henderson assumes must be “anger” or “sudden feeling.” Henderson’s statement that the killer acted out of passion, rather than cold calculation, might hint at his premature assumption of Mrs. Wright’s guilt. In this unequal society, men attribute passion and emotion, rather than intellect and rationality, to women.

Motive is key in a murder investigation because it can decisively sway the opinion of the jury. This is established early in the story when it is clear that Mrs. Wright is already the primary suspect. Evidence of her motive is presented as the necessary piece to seal the case against her, so it is clear how important this evidence is when Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover it.

This passage uses a legalistic understanding of crime and punishment. Punishment allocated by the American legal system is supposed to target the guilty, and the system is designed to protect the innocent. In order to do this, those running the legal system need evidence to delineate between the guilty and the not-guilty. This story asks the question: can the legal system effectively delineate between the guilty and the not-guilty? There is not always convincing evidence of a crime and some crimes (such as domestic emotional abuse) are not acknowledged by the legal system.

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“‘But he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the time of day with him—’She stopped, shivered a little. ‘Like a raw wind that gets to the bone’.”

Related Characters: Martha Hale (speaker), Mrs. Peters, John Wright
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

Initially, it seems that Minnie must be her husband's killer and that nothing could possibly excuse such a horrendous crime. Yet, this moment begins to demonstrate that John Wright is not so innocent either. Mrs. Hale is critical of his coldness and harshness, and she shudders when imagining herself in Mrs. Wright’s shoes. Mrs. Hale has no reason to unfairly criticize Mr. Wright, and her words turn the reader’s sympathy away from John Wright, who was unkind and difficult. Questions begin to arise: what did John Wright do to Minnie before his death? Mrs. Hale's evocative metaphor—that being near John Wright was like being in a “raw wind that gets to the bone”—works on the reader on an emotional level. The experience is relatable, haunting, and even physically effective. By using this figurative language, Mrs. Hale persuasively makes her point that John Wright’s past treatment of his wife is worthy of suspicion—even if he's not "guilty" of any specific crime that the male-dominated law would convict.

In this moment, Mrs. Hale self-identifies with Mrs. Wright because she sees similarities between their experiences. By relating to the other woman in this way, Mrs. Hale is growing more sympathetic and understanding of Minnie’s situation, and starting to build up a feeling of solidarity with all women. Because she understands what Minnie went through, she will be inclined to support her rather than the murdered John Wright. She chooses to lie to defend Minnie because she sees that her husband will not be criticized for his cruelty in a society that subjugates women.

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John Wright Character Timeline in A Jury of Her Peers

The timeline below shows where the character John Wright appears in A Jury of Her Peers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Jury of Her Peers
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
Crime and Punishment Theme Icon
...Martha Hale had always been busy and in the twenty years of Minnie’s marriage to John Wright , Martha Hale had never visited their home. (full context)
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
Legal Obligations vs. Gender Loyalty Theme Icon
...had stopped by to visit the Wrights’ home the day before. Previously, he had asked John Wright about sharing the expense for a party line telephone, but Wright wasn’t interested and Mr.... (full context)
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
Crime and Punishment Theme Icon
Mr. Hale discovered John Wright ’s body in his bed upstairs with the rope still in place. Hale returned downstairs,... (full context)
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
Crime and Punishment Theme Icon
...Henderson considers whether anything in the kitchen could be evidence pertaining to the murder of John Wright , but Mr. Peters quickly disagrees, saying that he sees “only kitchen things” there. Before... (full context)
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
Crime and Punishment Theme Icon
...not a place she necessarily wanted to visit, but quickly avoids saying any more about John Wright ’s personality when George Henderson questions her further. (full context)
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
Male Obliviousness to Women’s Importance Theme Icon
Legal Obligations vs. Gender Loyalty Theme Icon
...garments she wore regularly. Minnie’s clothes are old and worn and Mrs. Hale comments that John Wright must not have provided Minnie with the financial support to be well dressed. She hasn’t... (full context)
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
Male Obliviousness to Women’s Importance Theme Icon
Legal Obligations vs. Gender Loyalty Theme Icon
...premise that she was too busy to make the short trip. The two women discuss John Wright , who was considered by many to have been a good man because he was... (full context)
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
...about the Minnie Foster she knew and says that she changed dramatically after she married John Wright . Mrs. Hale proposes the idea of bringing the quilt along with the clothes to... (full context)
The Subjugation of Women Theme Icon
...back by others. Mrs. Hale, caught up in her own train of thought, says that John Wright must have broken the neck of the songbird. Mrs. Peters says that they don’t know... (full context)